The deeply poetic life of Tom Waits depicted in a series of surreal portraits
Matt Mahurin, an acclaimed photographer whose work has appeared a host of crucial popular culture mediums, has developed a working relationship with Tom Waits over years of prolific creativity.
Mahurin’s visually pioneering approach to his artistic output has resulted in a number of high profile collaborations, directing music videos for the likes of U2, Metallica, David Byrne, Lou Reed, Joni Mitchell and, of course, Tom Waits.
His friendship with Waits has always garnered the best reaction to his inner creative vision, one that has spanned 30 years of visually striking work. While collecting that period of time into one definitive project seems near impossible, the photographer did just that in his recent book Tom Waits by Matt Mahurin which exhibits a vast series of wildly inventive portraits,
The book collects no fewer than 100 dormant film negatives garnered during their three-decade time together, work which has originated from magazine portraits images, album covers, music videos and, at times, their social time together. In what appears to be fantastically inspired by the demeanour of Tom Waits, Mahurin’s portraits are often surrealist and, at times, morosely poetic. “The images vary from traditional portraits to ones that capture Waits in concert—but the majority are richly imagined scenes in which Waits is more muse than musician,” the book states. “In addition to the diverse images, the book includes a foreword by Waits, an essay by Mahurin on their longtime collaboration, and 20 original paintings, drawings, photographs, and digital images inspired by Waits’s song titles.”
Speaking in his foreword, Mahurin explained: “This book is one more chapter in our artistic history—told from three thousand miles apart and without a word between us. Tom’s body language part-ape, part-ballerina. His facial expressions part-prankster, part-monster— all whispering or wailing to me what they wanted to be. A huffing bull, a puffing tractor, a suffering clown.”
See a selection of the images below and, if you feel inclined, order the book here.